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Multiple road projects soon to begin

Posted: March 27, 2013 - 12:01am
Columbia County workers prepare the ground for a new sidewalk near Baker Place Elementary.   Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Columbia County workers prepare the ground for a new sidewalk near Baker Place Elementary.

Masters Week guests won’t see much evidence of road construction in Columbia County this year, but by next spring several major projects will be in full swing.

The Georgia Department of Transportation and Columbia County Con­struction and Maintenance are preparing to seek bids on projects ranging from the extension of River Watch Parkway and William Few Parkway to the widening of Washington and Columbia Roads and to intersection and sidewalk improvements.

Construction on many of those projects will start later this year, and some – such as River Watch – could take two years to complete, said Columbia County Construction and Maintenance Division Director Matt Schlachter.

The Columbia Road widening from Belair Road to Old Belair Road should go to bid in June, according to Bruce Anderson Jr., the Georgia DOT manager for the project.

The project will extend the four-lane section and add a signal upgrade at Old Belair, Anderson said. The bridge over Crawford Creek also will be widened.

The project is being built with state and federal funding, but county commissioners Tuesday approved spending $314,000 to relocate utilities along the road, said Columbia County Water Utility Director Billy Clayton.

Construction on the roundabout at Pumpkin Center also is expected within the next three months, with bids going out to contractors soon, said DOT spokesperson Cissy McNure.

After approval by county commissioners Tuesday, county crews soon will be able to start work on adding turn lanes and traffic signals on Lewiston Road at William Few Parkway, Schlachter said. They’re also now seeking engineering recommendations for the Chamblin Road/William Few intersection nearby, which will have either a traffic light or a roundabout.

That project will be built with discretionary funding from the new Transportation Investment Act, also known as TSPLOST. In addition to funding for major projects, each county in the district receives a share of the monthly revenue from the additional 1-percent sales tax. Columbia County got its first check in January, for $127,000.

Some of that funding already is being used to build new sidewalks on Hero Way near Baker Place Elementary, and other sidewalks will be built on Blue Ridge Drive, Clark Point and The Pass near the Lakeside schools, and Conn Drive near River Ridge Elementary.

“We’re focusing on the schools, trying to get the sidewalks to the schools, tying the neighborhoods to them,” Schlachter said.

The largest of the upcoming construction projects are the Washington Road widening, from Gibbs Road to William Few, and the extension of River Watch Parkway to Washington Road at Town Center Drive.

Both are state highways, though the county is overseeing the Washington Road project using local sales tax funding, Schlachter said. The project is budgeted at $40 million with funding from the county’s local-option sales tax.

The DOT’s River Watch Parkway extension likewise should be under construction by the end of the year, Schlachter said, and include a bridge over the railroad tracks on Old Evans Road.

Major projects funded through the TSPLOST, including the widening of Robinson Avenue in Grovetown near Fort Gordon’s Gate 2, still are in the planning and engineering stages.

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